Kerry States: Cornerstone of Election

A few days ago I looked at the possibility of an Obama victory if McCain were to win Florida and Ohio. The results effectively showed that the election hinges on the Kerry states. Under this assumption Obama needs only to secure his base, while McCain needs to reach into his opponent's heartland. With the VP decision looming just over the horizon a perfect choice could tip the balance.

If we first focus on the Kerry states that McCain has any shot of winning there are six, Minnesota (10), Pennsylvania (21), Iowa (7), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (17) and New Hampshire (4). Of these six states, three stand out with possible VP choices; Minnesota with Gov. Pawlenty, Michigan with Fmr. Gov. Romney, and Pennsylvania with Fmr. Gov. Ridge. They all have advantages and drawbacks; there is no clear front runner under this scenario.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, viewed by some as the front runner solely on the basis of his Republican status in a blue state, is far from perfect. Two main issues could haunt a Pawlenty Vice Presidency; [1] Pawlenty broke campaign finance laws during his initial bid for the governorship resulting in fines of $600,000 [Source: Minnesota Public Radio] and [2] his association with the I-35W Bridge Collapse. He charged his Lt. Governor Carol Molnau with the task of reforming the Minnesota Department of Transportation until she was removed in the aftermath of the collapse for not reading bridge inspection reports. [Source: NY Times] He also vetoed legislation both before and after the collapse that would have increased the gas tax and in turn infrastructure spending. Pawlenty, as a VP candidate would become the poster child of infrastructure neglect, and Carol Molnau would become the Governor of Minnesota. Not only does Pawlenty have some marks against him, but some people may actually vote against him (although they support him) in order to avoid a Molnau Governorship, if that makes sense; Pawlenty is out.

Massachusetts' Former Governor Mitt Romney (of Michigan ancestry) would likely shift the Wolverine State Blue solely by being placed on the ticket. The problem, McCain hates his guts. Romney is also a Mormon and uninformed evangelicals blindly hate the Mormon religion which could hurt McCain in the Bible Belt. Other than those two issues Romney is the superior choice because he brings authoritative economic know how and a boat load of money to the campaign. But it all comes down to whether whiny evangelicals will accept the religious beliefs of others; don't count on it, Romney's out.

Former Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania could also pose problems. For one he is pro-choice which may hurt McCains's evangelical support, but McCain needs a Kerry state to have any hope of winning so the trade off might be worth it. Tom Ridge was also involved with the downsizing of FEMA in 2003 before Katrina hit, a fact that could be used against the ticket. The reach of Katrina however is probably limited to Louisiana at this point, but it could have an affect in Iowa based on the recent flooding in a multitude of cities including Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. The fact remains however, that Iowa is probably Obama's and Louisiana is so far out of Obama's reach that the Katrina effect just won't matter. It appears that Tom Ridge could be McCain's best bet at winning a Kerry state.

Of all the possible VPs mentioned for Obama only one candidate hails from one of the three states previously mentioned, Senator Joe Biden who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden brings foreign policy experience from his 35 years in the US Senate and his time spent chairing the Foreign Relations Committee. He is also embarking on a solo trip to Georgia which could immediately counteract the Media's blind assertion that McCain is more knowledgeable about foreign policy affairs. There is also no risk of Biden's seat flipping upon his potential election to the Vice Presidency because Delaware is wildly democratic. The only downside is that he voted to authorize the War in Iraq. He is also viewed by the Media as a talker, but who honestly cares, he knows more about politics than probably any other Democrat with the possible exception of Ted Kennedy. Joe Biden solidifies a vital Kerry state while bringing foreign policy and a scandal free past to the ticket all, while forcing McCain's hand into a lose-lose-lose situation.

If Obama were to choose Joe Biden, McCain is left with the decision of whether to choose Tom Ridge and directly compete in Pennsylvania or to choose a more flawed candidate and concede Pennsylvania while trying to compete in another Kerry state. In any case McCain's base will be upset, which is exactly why Obama should take this opportunity to consolidate his base.

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3 Response(s) to Kerry States: Cornerstone of Election

8/28/2008 5:47:17 PM CT

Mitt Romney was never governor of Michigan. His father was.
8/28/2008 6:04:41 PM CT

That is a problem isn't it? Tom Ridge is clearly an effective choice but it would send Rush Limbaugh into a tizzy! Mitt Romney alienates some evangelicals and does nothing to help McCain connect with wage earners (although he might reassure some Wall Street types in non-battleground states). Pawlenty does nothing at all for the ticket. Huccabee would be a better choice than this man. He'd do well to consider a woman but, the GOP doesn't have one at the ready.
8/29/2008 12:56:04 AM CT

BAd Choice. He is in part responsible for th I35 collapse

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